A new project for the brighter future of Roma in Croatia

Apr 30, 2015

PHOTO: UNDP CROATIA

The project "Better together - social inclusion of Roma in Croatia" was presented in Sisak 

Sisak, 30 April 2015 – Six Croatian counties with the largest number of Roma population will get valuable tools based on data which will enable them to make better policies, measures, activities and will also provide solutions to social problems that the Roma minority face in their everyday life. 

This will be possible through the project „Better together for Roma in Croatia“, which was presented today in Sisak. The project is implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Croatia, with financial support from the EEA/Norway Grants

Research of the socio-economic situation of Roma conducted by the Regional Center of UNDP in 12 countries of southeast Europe including Croatia, indicate that most of Roma people still face numerous obstacles: most of them live in deep poverty, 40% of Roma have not completed primary school and the involvement of Roma in secondary education is twice lower compared to the rest of the population which accounts for more than 83%. When it comes to job opportunities, Roma unemployment is three to four times higher than the unemployment rate of the non-Roma population. 

Despite national guidelines for Roma inclusion, this data suggests that there are many obstacles on the level of municipalities and counties which prevent a significant change of conditions in which the Roma people live. 

Therefore, the purpose of this project is to improve the capacity of regional and local institutions to respond timely to the needs of Roma, focusing on the Sisak-Moslavina County which is the second largest county in the number of Roma population. The project will also include Koprivnica -Križevci, Brod-Posavina, Osijek-Baranja, Primorje-Gorski Kotar and Međimurje County. 

„Making a difference in peoples’ lives and the decreasing of social and economic disparities, is the main objective that the donor countries; Norway, Liechtenstein and Iceland wish to achieve in Croatia. Croatia became eligible for these funds after it joined the EU and the European Economic Area (the EEA), and has been allocated a total of 9.6 million euros so far. I am confident that this project will contribute significantly in combating exclusion, separation and ambivalence, with a view to better inclusion, participation and involvement of the Roma population as a whole,” said Henrik Ofstad, the Ambassador of the Kingdom of Norway to Croatia. 

Project activities will include the creation of county Action plans for Roma inclusion and related Atlases of Roma settlements that illustrate data on the socio-economic situation of the Roma, which will also be used for planning and monitoring the implementation of local plans. Additionally, in the Sisak-Moslavina County efforts will be made on strengthening the capacity of the local government and Roma and non-Roma organizations to develop a catalog of project ideas that could be financed through EU funds. Also, initiatives promoting the fulfillment of their rights in the field of social welfare, education and employment will be supported. 

„We are aware that there is a lot of joint work and challenges ahead of us and of the Roma community because it is not enough to declare coexistence in multicultural societies, but also to live in them, and this sometimes leads to problems. However, I believe that together we will do even more to improve the quality of life of all citizens of Sisak,“ said Kristina Ikić Baniček, the Mayor of Sisak. 

In the implementation of this project a specific area based approach will be used, which is the foundations for the involvement of local partners and the promotion of work in the community and work for the community, in which UNDP has years of experience. 

Sandra Vlašić, Head of UNDP, pointed out at the end: “With this approach, UNDP wants to build a base for a more inclusive and participatory politics towards Roma at a local, national and European level and to encourage the inclusion of Roma in the society.“

Project „Better together for Roma in Croatia“, was initiated in April 2015 and will be implemented during one year.

 

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Through the EEA Grants and Norway Grants, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway contribute to reducing social and economic disparities and to strengthening bilateral relations with the beneficiary countries in Europe. The three countries cooperate closely with the EU through the Agreement on the European Economic Area (EEA).For the period 2009-14, the EEA Grants and Norway Grants amount to €1.79 billion. Norway contributes around 97% of the total funding. Grants are available for NGOs, research and academic institutions, and the public and private sectors in the 12 newest EU member states, Greece, Portugal and Spain. There is broad cooperation with donor state entities, and activities may be implemented until 2016. Key areas of support are environmental protection and climate change, research and scholarships, civil society, health and children, gender equality, justice and cultural heritage.